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An Open Letter to the Class of 2015

Dear Graduating Class of 2015,

Congratulations on making it to the educational finish line!

Claim your prize (i.e. degree/diploma), step on the podium briefly, and get ready to face a whole new challenge called ‘the world’!

You should really be proud of yourself for getting that degree/diploma, because it represents the sweat, blood, and effort you put into earning your education, even if you believe you ‘breezed by it’ for 3-5 years. Your degree is not just a piece of textured paper, or an expensive drink coaster.

Your degree should signify your trekking academic journey, the progression of your personal wisdom, and the paradigm shift of your world views. 

It is a physical reminder of your completed academic journey as you are preparing towards your next adventure, whether it’s through further schooling, climbing the proverbial ladder towards your career, or packing your bags to travel to a far, exotic locale.

however, Your degree will not guarantee you the career.

Have you ever heard of the saying, experience trumps education? That applies to many careers, unfortunately. But it makes a lot of sense too. This year, tens of thousands of post-secondary graduates have their diploma in hand; some (maybe many) have the same career aspirations as you. How will you stand out from the competition?

Hiroshi Mikitani, the CEO of Rakuten Inc., advises new graduates to ‘start anything’ and ‘pursue something’ ASAP.

Don’t wait to be told what to do. Simply take action. Take ownership of something. And don’t wait…If you start now, you can do anything. I truly believe this. But if you are trying to win at something without exerting any effort, I suggest you rethink your views on the world. If you draw up a grand scheme and put in hard work, you can be the catalyst for revolutions.

Building something, whether it’s through learning a new skill or constructing a blog, may give you more than credentials, according to Zachary Slayback.

Engaging in meaningful work motivates the individual. It creates a feedback loop by which we become more motivated to better ourselves in the pursuit of our work…If you find yourself agreeing with the advice to just be building but have no idea what to build, then just start on the path of building something. You’ll be amazed at the motivation and creativity you unlock in the pursuit of building.

Fuel your motivational fires with personal passions, and put your back into it. People rarely change the world by sitting on their couch.

DON’T BELIEVE THE WORLD OWES YOU A LIVING. THE WORLD OWES YOU NOTHING. IT WAS HERE FIRST. —ROBERT J. BURDETTE

I’d like to think that your life doesn’t have to ‘peak’ at college.

I’ve always kicked myself for not having the proper ‘college experience’. I’ve given myself a hard time, regretting the risks I never took during my undergraduate career. I’ve been cruel to myself, making a mental note that the opportunity to take these chances are gone, because I’ll be immersed into the ‘big, bad world’, and not within a post-secondary bubble.

But then I realized that THE MOST PAINFUL PART OF ANY PROCESS IS THE TRANSITIONing into another one.

Whether you’ve earned a high school diploma or a post-secondary degree, the most anxious-ridden part about your ‘educational career’ is the transition to another phase, whether it be to the ‘real world’ or another learning institution.

You’ve made a ton of memories here, you met a lot of nice people, you could skip a few classes when you felt like sleeping in, and you discovered a ton of things about yourself during your studies. Does it get any better than this?

WELL, SURE LIFE IS FULL OF PAIN AND DRUDGERY, BUT THE TRICK IS TO ENJOY THE FEW PERFECT EXPERIENCES WE’RE GIVEN IN THE MOMENT. –LISA SIMPSON

But the ‘real world’ is not just laden with piling bills, nosey coworkers, fast food coffee, and horrendous morning traffic. Life would be extremely cruel if that’s all there ever was post-graduation.

YOUR LIFE IS STILL METAPHORICALLY UNWRITTEN. 

Isn’t higher education supposed to inspire us to embark on our own journeys?  To trek into the vast expanse of the world and understand the so-called ‘bigger picture’ of things? Didn’t pursuing higher education motivate us to ‘reach for the stars’ and discover brand new horizons that few have ever reached?

Robert Patton shares some great advice to new graduates about their own careers and life, advocating for the idea that they can be one, giant road trip.

…You need to be open to the free-flowing experiences that are life..your career should not be dictated by a rigid plan that assumes everything will go perfectly…I am not advocating taking unreasonable risks. But I am challenging you to be open to thinking bigger, being bolder and taking calculated risks that are motivated by your passion to be a part of something you feel will make a difference in the lives of others

Your degree will not lay out a path for you and it won’t take you places you want to go. It won’t define your success or even grant you that dream job you’ve always wanted. Your degree won’t give you the gift of clairvoyance to see into your future. It’ll be up to you to do all those things. 

New graduates, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions:

Who will you be in this world?
What will your life story entail?
And which long, arduous journeys will you take?

Congratulations once again, and all the best!

Cheers,

–A Fellow Classmate of 2015


Renee has received her B.Sc. in Honours Life Sciences at McMaster University. She loves educating others about different topics in science, and has developed a passion for scientific outreach. When she’s not writing articles for Hemtecks, she’s either volunteering or checking her social media accounts every 20 minutes. Along with Tiffany (Tianhemtecks), she also facilitates the blog’s Facebook page. 

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